This Southern Home Was a Hidden Gem—See Its Transformation

Take a tour of this dramatic home makeover where a North Carolina designer sifted through lots of layers to unearth a sparkling jewel.

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Designer Amy Vermillion and a longtime client were house shopping when they visited the lone contemporary home in the highly desirable Foxcroft neighborhood in central Charlotte. One thing about the house was immediately clear: It hadn’t been updated since it was built—in 1982. “I walked in and, Holy Moses,” Vermillion says, “It was like time stopped.”

We’re talking a tiny bathroom tucked in the corner of the laundry room. Sliding glass patio doors behind the kitchen cabinets. Pink carpet (!) in both the kitchen and the bathroom. And a water leak under one toilet that had nearly rotted through the subfloor. It was enough to send other prospective buyers running for the door.

But glimmers of charm poked through the alarm. The first sight upon walking in the front door was the living room, with soaring ceilings clad in knotty pine planks, and glass doors that ushered in views of the leafy backyard. Several interior doors were stately in size at nearly 10 feet tall, and dazzling in detail with flattened wood flutes on both faces. A peek under the kitchen carpeting revealed a treasure: the same antique heartpine flooring as in the rest of the house.

These little sparks gave Vermillion a vision, and she longed to shape the place into something spectacular. “We gotta get this house!” she urged her client. “The bones are so good. We’re going to take it down to the studs and add a second floor. You’re going to love it!”

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The backyard was already shady, with plenty of plantings. A few mature trees were brought in to supplement the landscape. A patio large enough to fit an outdoor table is perfect for dining al fresco.

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Sure enough, after 18 months of work on issues both massive and minute, the contemporary house in a neighborhood of white-brick ranches and old-world Georgians is an undisputed treasure. And in a poetic postscript, Vermillion left some 1980s throwbacks in the mix: She kept the gorgeous, almost-blush-tone pickled pine planks on the ceilings, and she boldly introduced a Lucite coffee table in the living room.

It turns out, the ’80s got a few things right.

When she first stepped into the house, designer Amy Vermillion was astounded by its good bones, as seen in the living room. The steeply pitched ceiling, clad in pickled-finish knotty pine planks, and a wall of sliding glass doors—interrupted only by the hearth—frame wooded backyard views. Multiple seating areas break up a soaring living space to make it feel cozier and provide lots of places to lounge and gather.

The dining room demonstrated the home’s problem with scale: Skyrocketing ceilings call for hefty furnishings and walls with wow to keep rooms from feeling cavernous and cold.

Nubby grass cloth with the slightest hint of sheen adds texture to the dining room walls. With so much vertical real estate, the walls needed a finish that would neither fall flat nor overwhelm. Incorporating the owner’s sizable art collection into the home was a high priority; here a painting and sculptures preside over the room.

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The dining room features one of the interior doors that dazzled Vermillion when she first saw the house. Nearly 10 feet tall and almost 4 inches thick, the solid wood doors have flattened flutes on both faces. That finish is such a merry merger of contemporary and traditional styles that Vermillion repeated it elsewhere in the house, including the vent hood and pantry cabinet doors in the kitchen.

Designer Amy Vermillion

I wanted a really clean palette in the house to let the art and architecture be the stars.

— Designer Amy Vermillion

“There was no place for wall cabinets because one wall of the kitchen was sliding glass doors,” Vermillion says. An odd gap between the back of the cabinets and the patio doors, just wide enough to walk through, provided access to the doors. Vermillion’s solution? Swapping out the doors for conventional windows and installing a slim span of awning-style cabinets.

The new kitchen features a short peninsula that juts into the room for casual seating for two. The kitchen cabinetry was custom-built to suit the space and the homeowner, sneaking storage into every conceivable spot. Vermillion chose a cooktop and wall ovens, rather than a range, to reserve storage space beneath for large pots and pans. Antique heart-pine floors were hiding under the kitchen carpet and are now revealed in all their fine-grained glory.

Though the backsplash and countertops resemble marble, they’re actually Antique White quartzite. “It’s not quartz, but people mistake quartzite for quartz,” Vermillion says. “Quartzite is generally the most expensive stone, but it’s almost a hybrid of marble and granite—it looks like marble, but it’s durable like granite.”

Tucked behind the kitchen peninsula, a butler’s pantry brims with a wine refrigerator and cabinets stocked with glasses and barware. Glass-front cabinets shows off the impressive collection of stemware. Elsewhere, the kitchen’s brick fireplace was in great shape and just needed cleaning.

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The in-kitchen breakfast room shows off a fun chandelier—Vermillion views lighting as critical in any remodeling project. Natural light also pours in from the sliding glass door leading out to the patio. The views of the backyard make a great setting for a relaxing morning.

The primary bathroom was packed with confounding design choices: pink carpet around the toilet, a pedestal sink, mirrors along an entire wall, no shower stall, and little space to store necessities. The functionality of the space was lacking and needed a serious overhaul. The result is worthy of a 5-star hotel. A new dual vanity makes the primary bathroom hardworking as well as handsome. There’s an out-in-the-open place for everyday essentials and plenty of storage behind closed doors, too.

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A freestanding bathtub replaced the old built-in model in the primary bath. One end of the bath is now a roomy shower. The walls are clad in large marble tiles with a band of small mosaics near eye level. Installing multiple light sources, including recessed cans and shaded sconces, on dimmers allows for lighting that can adjust for a soothing bath or getting dressed for the day

A strange indentation in one wall (behind the bed) limited the furniture layout in the primary bedroom. Tall ceilings, walls sheathed in grass cloth, and glass doors that provide views of the backyard make the primary bedroom a welcoming retreat. New bedside tables bring the lamps down to a height within reach and provide a place to set bedtime necessities. New shades on the window are hung high to keep the room looking large.

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